An official of the Roman Congregation of Rites
Promotor Fidei (PROMOTER OF THE FAITH), an official of the Roman Congregation of Rites. The office was created by Clement XI, April 7, 1708. In earlier times the work now undertaken by the Promotor Fidei was entrusted to the Promotor Fiscalis or some consistorial advocate. The Promotor Fidei is also an official of the Congregation of Indulgences and Sacred Relics, but his main duty is performed in the processes of beatification and canonization, which are conducted by the Congregation of Rites. It is the special care of the Promoter of the Faith to prevent any rash decisions concerning miracles or virtues of the candidates for the honors of the altar. All documents of beatification and canonization processes must be submitted to his examination, and the difficulties and doubts he raises over the virtues and miracles are laid before the congregation and must be satisfactorily answered before any further steps can be taken in the processes. It is his duty to suggest natural explanations for alleged miracles, and even to bring forward human and selfish motives for deeds that have been accounted heroic virtues. For the examination of witnesses outside of Rome, the promoter formulates the questions and he has the power to appoint sub-promoters to assist him. All the processes for beatification and canonization must be submitted to the promoter under pain of nullity. Owing to his peculiar duty of antagonizing the proofs put forward on behalf of persons proposed for saintly honors, the Promoter of the Faith is commonly referred to, half jocosely, as the devil's advocate.
WILLIAM H. W. FANNING